February 26, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Most Palestinians See "Regaining All of Historical Palestine" as their "Top Priority" - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    New survey data shows that 66% of Palestinian West Bankers and 56% of Gazans pick "regaining all of historical Palestine for the Palestinians, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea," as the top Palestinian national priority during the coming five years.
    Only 11% of West Bankers and 9% of Gazans choose achieving a one-state solution.
    Nevertheless, one-third of West Bankers and a remarkable 40% of Gazans say "it would be better for us if we were part of Israel rather than in PA or Hamas-ruled lands."
    68% of West Bankers agree that "The PA should stop special payments to prisoners, and give their families normal social benefits like everybody else - not extra payments based on their sentences or armed operations." Only 37% of Gazans agree.

U.S. Sanctions 13 Foreign Entities for Supporting Iran Missile Program (Reuters)
    Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced on Tuesday the imposition of sanctions on 13 foreign entities and individuals in China, Iraq, Russia, and Turkey for supporting Iran's missile program.

Denmark Calls on Human Rights Council to Eliminate Permanent Agenda Item on Israel - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod spoke on Monday in Geneva against the UN Human Rights Council's practice of holding a mandatory debate on alleged Israeli human rights abuses at every session, known as Agenda Item 7.
    "Singling out one country with its own Agenda Item 7 is unbalanced and does not lend legitimacy to the working of the council," Kofod said.
    Israel is the only country in the world that has a permanent agenda item of its own.

Brooklyn College Athletes Kneel during Israel's National Anthem - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    At a men's volleyball competition during the weekend, two players from Brooklyn College knelt during the singing of Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem, before a match against Jewish students of Yeshiva University.
    It has become common in recent years for athletes to engage in anti-Israel political protests during sports competitions.
    Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, said, "It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel's national anthem. We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israeli national anthems before every athletic competition and major event."
    "Nothing makes me prouder to be an American than living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and always be prized."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Is Spreading Coronavirus to a Host of Neighboring Countries - David D. Kirkpatrick
    Religious pilgrims, migrant workers, businessmen, soldiers and clerics all flow constantly across Iran's frontiers into countries with weak and ineffective governments and fragile health systems. Now Iran is emerging as the second focal point after China for the spread of the coronavirus. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the UAE, and Canada have all been traced to Iran.
        In January alone, 30,000 people returned to Afghanistan from Iran, and hundreds of others continue to make the pilgrimage to Qom, the site of the outbreak, every week, Afghan officials say. Iranians were ignoring official urgings to stay away from hospitals for fear of spreading the disease, instead crowding into emergency rooms to get themselves tested. (New York Times)
        See also Researchers Say Thousands Might Be Infected with Coronavirus in Iran
    University of Toronto scientists and doctors have published a research paper estimating that up to 18,000 people are infected with coronavirus in Iran. Researchers focused on volume of travel from Iran to other countries and proven cases of infected people arriving in other countries, such as Lebanon and Canada. (Radio Farda)
        See also Coronavirus Infects Iran - Criticism of the Iranian Regime Grows - Iran Desk
    The spread of the coronavirus in Iran has dominated Iranian media. The epicenter of the disease is the holy city of Qom, the seat of most religious seminaries and religious centers. The coronavirus and the institutional failure to cope with it may spark the next wave of protest against the regime, given its policy of concealing the truth. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Coronavirus Will Hammer Iran's Economy - Esfandyar Batmanghelidj
    Iraq and Turkey have closed their borders with Iran and canceled air travel. These restrictions will hammer the Iranian economy, following 18 months of deep recession triggered by U.S. sanctions. The rial has lost 7% of its value since officials announced the first two coronavirus deaths on Feb. 19.
        In the early days of the outbreak, Iran kept up flights to China when other countries were cancelling them. Much was made of the fact that Iranian exporters were shipping hygiene supplies to China, helping Beijing in a moment of need. Ali Shariati, a prominent member of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, tweeted: "For our national interest we maintained Mahan Air flights to China and sent them two million masks. Now we have coronavirus and no masks....Isn't it beautiful?"  (Bloomberg)
        See also Iran's Deputy Health Minister Contracts Coronavirus (BBC)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Gaza Truce Appears to Hold
    After two days of almost constant rocket fire, life in Israel began to return to normal Tuesday after a ceasefire with Islamic Jihad in Gaza appeared to hold. Railway traffic to the Gaza border region has resumed and roads have been opened to civilian traffic. Schools remained closed as a precaution. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Fails to Curb Islamic Jihad - Yaakov Lappin
    For months, the Israeli government has tried to reach new truce understandings with Hamas in Gaza. But Hamas is unable or unwilling to constrain Islamic Jihad, the second-largest armed faction in Gaza. Hamas has not abandoned its long-term ideology of destroying Israel, but Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar is said to have concluded that a war at this time would threaten his own regime. He also concluded that continued economic deterioration in Gaza would pose big risks to Hamas control there.
        Hamas has not convinced Israel that it is even able to uphold a truce, or that it would not use commodities going into Gaza to build up its military force and threaten Israelis. It's not able to provide assurances that rockets will stop terrorizing Israeli civilians, or that balloons with grenades tied to them will stop appearing over Israeli towns. It has not visibly decreased its attempts to orchestrate terror squads from the West Bank.
        Israel has displayed much patience and caution in its dealings with Gaza and has not rushed into war. But the IDF has nevertheless been preparing for one. Israel cannot sit indefinitely on the side as residents of Sderot have a mere 15 seconds to find shelter. While Israel recognizes the need to improve the quality of life for Gazans who live under the rule of terror factions that use them as human shields, it cannot give in to terrorists or allow armed attacks on Israeli communities to pass unanswered. (JNS-Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hizbullah after Solemeini - Andrew Devereux
    Since October 2019, Lebanon has been rocked by large-scale anti-government protests. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has spoken of his concern of an impending economic collapse, an event that could heavily impact Hizbullah's domestic standing. Hizbullah has agreed to be part of a technocratic government, after resisting the move for numerous months as it limits its own power within the governing coalition. The need to stabilize the domestic political situation has taken precedence.
        Despite huge rallies denouncing the death of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, the majority of the Lebanese population favors the resurrection of a functioning government and economy over military engagements; any action by Hizbullah would be perceived as further threatening internal stability. The group has to secure its own position in Lebanon before pursuing external activities. (Jamestown Foundation)
  • Israeli Historian Benny Morris: The Palestinians Don't Want to Share the Country with the Jews - Gabe Stutman
    Israeli historian Benny Morris told J. ahead of his upcoming book tour in California that the Palestinians "are not a partner for peace. They are not interested in peace. The Palestinian political nation basically wants Israel to vanish."
        "I don't think the Palestinian leadership, and Palestinians, basically, in their hearts...want to share Palestine with the Jews....So it doesn't really matter what plan they're offered. Trump's plan, Clinton's plan in 2000. They say no. They don't want to divide the country with the Jews....It doesn't really matter that much [what the U.S. peace plan is offering] because I don't think they'll agree to a two-state solution of any sort."  (J.-Jewish News of Northern California)
  • The Moral and Political Collapse of the Sunni Arab World - Walter Russell Mead
    The Assad regime's long and brutal march to victory reflects the moral and political collapse of the Sunni Arab world. Syria is a Sunni-majority Arab state, and cities like Damascus and Aleppo have historically been major centers of Arab cultural life. That Sunni Arab states have been unable to protect Syrian Sunnis, impose a political solution on the conflict, or even materially affect the course of action in the Syrian war reveals an extraordinary helplessness and sense of futility.
        More than 70 years after decolonization, and about a century after its emancipation from Ottoman rule, the Sunni Arab world remains a playground for imperial powers. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and the humanities at Bard College, and a distinguished fellow in strategy and statesmanship at the Hudson Institute. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Israel granted work permits to Gaza Palestinians, expanded the fishing zone, and allowed the cash to flow from Qatar - all to no avail. The rocket fire from Gaza continues.
  • Defeating Islamic terror is considered legitimate anywhere else in the world, but what the U.S. and NATO can do, Israel cannot - even when fighting a jihadist group that controls Gaza.
  • Jerusalem simply cannot ignore international pressure. As soon as images depicting the aftermath of Israeli raids appear on media outlets, demands for a cessation of hostilities begin.
  • The West is ignorant of the true face of Hamas. It is an anti-Semitic organization that calls for the destruction of Jews; its official media outlet teaches children about the need to kill Jews.
  • Meanwhile, its religious leaders call for Rome to be captured in the interest of Islamic hegemony, much as the Islamic State ideology prescribed.